Sugar and high fructose diet slows brain and memory functions

Monday, September 10, 2012 by: John Phillip
Tags: fructose, memory loss, sugar consumption

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(NaturalNews) Health-minded individuals know that consuming a diet rich in sugary foods or laden with high fructose corn syrup increases incidence of heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and cancer. We can now add cognitive decline and poor memory retention to the list. This should be of particular interest to high school and college students known to load up on buckets of soda and pocketfuls of candy bars. New research demonstrates that even small amounts of glucose or fructose can slow down brain and memory functions. Additionally, too much added sugar can also prevent learning and hinder performance on scholastic tests.

Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have published the result of a study in the Journal of Physiology that explains the devastating effects of sugar and fructose consumption on youthful memory and cognition in teens and younger adults. The study lead, Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla commented "Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think ... Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage."

Americans typically consume in excess of 47 pounds of sugar and 35 pounds of fructose annually, up from around 2 pounds per year dating back to the late 1800's. It is not difficult to understand that such a dramatic increase in nutrition-less energy is largely behind the explosion of diabetes, obesity, and cancer, but most may not associate higher consumption of sugar with memory loss during the early years of brain development.

Omega-3 fats found to improve insulin signaling and offset the damaging effects of a sugary diet

To conduct the study, scientists compared two groups of rats (known to exhibit similar metabolic functions compared to humans) given drinking water laced with a fructose solution. Half of the animals were supplemented with a diet consisting of flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fats are known to protect against damage to the synapses, which are essentially the electrical connections between the brain cells. The rats were also trained on a maze twice per day and tested to see how well they performed.

After six weeks on the sugary diet, researchers found "The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall effectively." In short, the glucose/fructose diet made the rats stupid, while the animals supplemented with DHA retained normal memory recall and function.

The authors noted that the non-supplemented rats experienced insulin resistance that most likely resulted in memory loss, as insulin is involved in regulating how brain cells are able to use and store sugar for the energy required to process thoughts and emotions. Many people have anecdotally experienced problems with memory and clear thought after a sugary snack. This study clearly shows the importance of avoiding sugar and fructose in any form and supplementing with omega-3 fats (EPA/DHA equivalent of 1200 to 2400 mg per day or from flax/chia seeds, walnuts, almonds and many varieties of beans) to retain memory and high executive cognitive function.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan', a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your copy of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan'.

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